Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Hornby Supersound

Yesterday's sound system for railway is all very well but the results are American. What can we find on offer on the civilised side of the pond?

First contender from my cupboard of stuff is this R512 Hornby Supersound unit produced some time between 1992 and 1995. When sold as a separate item, the cost was a whopping ten pounds.

This is the cheapo version, and earlier type had connections to the track so the "chuff" could be regulated to match the loco as well as making both steam and diesel whistle/horn sounds.

As you can hear from the video, the sound quality is a bit limited with various flavours of white noise doing service instead of digital recordings. There were plenty of circuits around to let amateur electronics whizzes build the same sort of thing. As I recall, they might have sounded better than this, but not much.

Hornby must have liked these as there is a version for Scalextric as well.

1 comment:

Huw Griffiths said...

Thanks for posting this - brings back happy memories.

Some years back, a local Tandy (remember them?) were selling off a sound chip, with data, so cheap it would have been rude to refuse.

I built the application circuit on the datasheet - and had loads of fun altering component values and listening to the sounds.

Turning to the ready made versions, most of the sounds were basically various flavours of white noise. I never saw them - but they were almost certainly based around something very similar to the chips available to electronics enthusiasts.

As with the DIY versions, exactly what sounds came out could be varied by altering the values of a few external components.

Whoever designed these boxes for Hornby would probably have done a lot of playing around - sorry, "serious research" - and made a note of component values that yielded usable sounds. If they were really "serious" about it, they would also have varied these values by a few percent and checked again, to allow for component tolerances.

(Any differences between "train" and "car racing" versions could be taken care of at this stage of product development.)

It would then have been a simple matter to copy the component values across to production versions of the boxes.